A Buford man accused of breaching the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection was released on bond Friday but will be confined to his home when not working, a federal magistrate judge in Atlanta ruled Friday.
The FBI arrested Verden Andrew Nalley, 49, this week. He joins a growing list of Georgia residents held in connection with the riot that followed President Donald Trump’s rally protesting the outcome of the November election. Nalley allegedly entered the Capitol with another Georgian, Americus attorney William McCall Calhoun Jr., as a mob tried to stop the certification of the results.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan asked Judge Christopher Bly to confine Nalley to house arrest, but Bly ruled Nalley could leave home to work painting and restoring houses. The defense argued that, while Nalley was one of the hundreds of rioters to enter the Capitol, there was no evidence presented that he was among those who used violence to breach the building.
“I get what happened in D.C. It’s all over the news,” said Thomas Hawker, Nalley’s public defender. “But I don’t know that it deserves incarceration for this guy.”
The judge countered that entering the Capitol with the intent of disrupting Congress is a violent act.
“I think you are charged with a crime that is very violent in nature,” Bly said.
A number of other Georgians have been charged in the Jan. 6 riot, and his relative freedom is noteworthy. Nalley’s co-defendant, Calhoun, is being held in Washington without bond following a hearing last month where the magistrate referenced Calhoun’s violent and anti-government social media posts as evidence that he should not be released.
According to one such post, Nalley was alongside Calhoun when they entered the Capitol.
“We physically took control of the Capitol Building in a hand to hand hostile takeover,” Calhoun wrote, according to an FBI affidavit. “I was there and saw it all. My buddy Andy Nalley and I were in the first two hundred to rush up the steps and inside after the Vanguard had clashed hard with the police and made them retreat.”
Last week, another federal judge in Atlanta denied bond for 18-year-old Milton resident Bruno Cua, accused of storming the Capitol and entering the Senate chamber. And, on Wednesday, a federal judge in Washington denied bond to Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, of Woodstock, and her son, Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, of Nashville. Both allegedly were inside the Senate during the riot.
One thing separating Nalley from the other Georgia-linked defendants is that he did not leave a large digital trail of his actions and thoughts on the major social media platforms. But a left-wing activist group last month unearthed screenshots of a profile attributed to Nalley on MeWe.com, a social media site popular with some anti-government extremists, that expressed some of the same violent rhetoric as Calhoun.
“The capital (sic) take over was planned I was there,” one of the posts read. “We took it with no weapons and we will be back with guns in two weeks if that’s not fixed.”
Nalley will be required to stay at the home he shares with his longtime girlfriend when not at work. He also will be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor and submit to drug tests. The last requirement worried Bly as Nalley’s public defender said he was a daily marijuana user and had marijuana on him when he met with FBI agents to discuss his pending arrest.
“He brought marijuana with him to his meeting with the FBI?” Bly asked incredulously.
Bly said he was “very troubled” by Nalley’s admitted drug use and said he believes daily marijuana users often make bad personal decisions.
“He understands that if he uses … that he will be pulled off bond and will be in custody?” the judge said.
Bly allowed Nalley to sign an unsecured $10,000 bond, meaning he did not have to put up money or property as collateral. But he will be liable for the money if he fails to show up for court dates in Washington, D.C.